BBC Surveillance of Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorian Embassy August 2018 in London

Update 6th of October 2020 for the original blog post see below.

Many apologies for the delay in updating this post. On the 9th of June I received a rejection to my FOIA from the BBC. They wrote:

“The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because if held it would be held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature.’ The BBC is therefore not obliged to provide this information to you and will not be doing so on this occasion.”

They also said that I could not ask for an internal review : “The BBC does not offer an internal review when the information requested is not covered by the Act. If you disagree with our decision you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. “ clarifying that “should the Information Commissioner’s Office decide that the Act does cover this 
information, exemptions under the Act might then apply.” 

Why is it that all doors to accessing this information are being closed shut by the BBC?

In their Panorama expose German Public Broadcaster NDR described the role of UC Global in the surveillance of Julian Assange by American Intelligence.

[This Spanish Security firm was contracted by Ecuadorian Intelligence Agency Senain to provide security for the Ecuadorian Embassy and the political asylee it hosted Julian Assange. The owner of the firm David Morales is currently in litigation in Spanish Courts for the operation of his firm. ]

There were previous reports of this operation. But from Julian Assange’s extradition hearing  witness statements  at The Old Bailey we’ve learned that :

“Our American friends,” Morales said, had laser microphones that were directional and pointed at the windows. They would “capture all conversations.” But according to Witness #2, since Assange used a white noise machine that “produced a vibration in the window that stopped the sound being extracted via the laser microphone, which US intelligence had installed outside.”

With the stickers placed in the upper left-hand side of each of the windows, they eliminated the vibration allowing the laser microphones to “extract conversations. Witness #2 was upset Morales had not informed them of the real reason for the stickers.

In this NDR documentary segment you can see the laser microphone placed in the first floor flat of number 18 Hans Crescent, opposite the Ecuadorian Embassy.

as well as the stickers that UC Global placed on the Embassy windows to facilitate the laser microphone surveillance.

This is the same building that the BBC letter was circulated in August 2018 asking to install cameras. The validity of the letter was confirmed at the time by media enquiries. My FOIA this year confirmed it again.

Do you suspect like I do that the BBC’s operation was not simply for news gathering but it potentially became an active participant in the illegal surveillance of Julian Assange? As WikiLeaks twitted when the letter became public:

‘BBC’ asks to install permanent @JulianAssange monitoring cameras in flats (no. 18 Hans Cres) opposite Ecuadorian embassy in London. It should be noted that the UK government already has several robot cameras pointed at the embassy steps, including on top of No. 22 #OpKudo

More than ever it becomes imperative in the interest of accountability of a public organisation to explain its role in relation to this issue.

Original post from May below:

I recently participated in Randy Credico’s excellent programme ‘Live on the Fly – Julian Assange Countdown to Freedom’. You can watch the programme below:

at 48 minutes 40 seconds I make reference to the BBC’s presence covering events outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. In particular I make reference to the BBC requesting from residents of no 18 Hans Crescent to allow them to place surveillance cameras onto their building. Here is the document I refer to.

I wonder if a Freedom of Information Request might get some more information onto the subject. So I send one to the BBC:

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

Please provide me with correspondence relating to the BBC newsgathering operation described in a letter distributed to residents of 18 Hans Crescent around the 8th of August 2018.

Furthermore please inform me whether the appeal was successful, how long the operation lasted and where any photos and footage is held.

I want to use this information to request from the BBC any images of myself and other solidarity activists photographed or filmed whilst participating in vigils and protests in support of Julian Assange at Hans Crescent. You can see an image of the BBC News letter in the link below.…

I have copied the content of the letter below:

BBC News –
It said:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I hope you’ll forgive my direct approach, but I was wondering whether you might be willing to consider the possibility of having access to some of your outside space for our coverage of the Julian Assange story.

We’re looking to install a small weatherproof camera overlooking the Ecuadorian Embassy. We would like to rent the space on your building for access.

We would require you to provide power and we will supply some sort of router for connectivity. We would not film anybody in your building; our only interest is the action outside the embassy opposite.

We agree we would obviously pay you for your disturbance and any utility charges incurred.

If this is something you might be interested please let me know at your earliest convenience through my mobile on 07********** or via my email at [email address].

I appreciate your time

Kind Regards

John Whitney
Deployment Editor, UK Newsgathering.
BBC Broadcasting House, London, W1A 1AA

News Desk: 0********Mobile 07**********
[email address]

Yours faithfully,

Emmy Butlin

If I get any information I will update the post.

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2 Responses to BBC Surveillance of Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorian Embassy August 2018 in London

  1. ouipoo says:

    They weren’t too worried about the news being ‘repetitive’ at that stage, then . . .

  2. Pingback: BBC Surveillance of Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorian Embassy - Was BBC complicit in illegal surveillance? | WISE Up Action – A Solidarity Network for Manning and Assange -

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